Breaking a bad habit is often as successful as taming a Nile crocodile. You may think you have it under control, but then – SNAP – the jaws tighten and you're stuck.
So if you have a few nasty money habits you want to kick, try a few of our tricks and give yourself some time.
Aim for a goal. Articulate your goals, figure out how to achieve them and break each into smaller steps. Once you have a set destination and know how to get there, it becomes easier to stay focused.
Pay yourself first. Whether you're saving for retirement, an emergency fund or a dream vacation, put aside money for that goal first. Use automatic transfers and direct deposit to make saving effortless.
Keep saved money separate from spending money. Live off of the money in your spending account and forget your saved funds. You may want to establish separate accounts for long- and short-term goals as well. This way you won't overspend on a vacation that shortchanges your college fund.
Pay more than the minimum. With credit cards, the minimum payment may hardly make a dent in your overall balance. To dig yourself out of debt more quickly, funnel as much as you can toward the account and leave your credit cards at home so you aren't tempted to use them. Once you've discharged the debt, only use credit cards for true emergencies or pay off the balance each month.
Use found money wisely. First put a portion of unexpected income, such as birthday money, a bonus or tax refund, toward your financial goals. Then you can use the remainder however you want.
Get the highest rate for your savings. Although you may want to have a big cushion for emergencies, what you really want is for that money to work harder. Set aside a reasonable amount that you can't afford to lose in a safe account, such as a money market account. Then find suitable higher-yield options for the bulk of your savings.
Avoid unnecessary fees. Anytime you pay a penalty fee you are actually paying someone else for nothing. To avoid late fees, log every due date on one calendar – from bills to rented movies – and refer to it daily. Also, make a point to use only our ATMs rather than paying a foreign ATM fee.
Reward yourself. You don't want to sacrifice so much to achieve your goals that you feel deprived. Leave a little room in your budget for small treats. And as you reach benchmarks toward your goals, give yourself a little bonus. But your reward shouldn't sabotage your efforts. For example, if you just paid off a credit card balance, splurging on an expensive pair of shoes that puts you right back into debt doesn't make sense. Instead, rent your favorite movie and have your friends over.
We Can Help
It's always easier to break bad habits and establish better ones when you have help, and we're here for you. Contact us to find out how our services can help pry open the grip bad habits may have on you.